Author Archives: George Simmers

After many years as a teacher, I retired and began researching for a Ph.D. on the fiction of the Great War – especially the books, stories and plays that were written during the War or immediately afterwards.

‘Blue Danube’ by Eunice Buckley

This novel begins in the 1890s, with a Jewish patriarch in Vienna counting his blessings: Today, the Lord be thanked, the Jews were neither despised nor rejected, but mingled with the Gentiles on terms of equality: in some instances might it not even be proper to say on terms of superiority? When the book was […]

G. F. Bradby

Last week, as I mentioned, I was impressed by this Kipling parody, which I found in the conscientious objectors’ magazine, The Tribunal Processional Lord God of battles, whom we seek On clouds and tempests throned afar, When, tired of being tamely weak, We maffick into deadly war. If it should chance to be a sin, […]

Kipling: war as ‘crazy cinema’

From a letter to Andrew Macphail, April 1917: Make up your mind that we of this generation cannot overtake the war as it is. That will be done by the ’emotion recollected in quietude’ of our children – or our grandchildren. Even for us at the back emotion and passion is overlaid like a crazy […]

Kipling in ‘The Tribunal’

I’m mostly working on an essay about Kipling at the moment, so my day at Bradford reading the conscientious objectors’ paper The Tribunal was quite a bracing change of tone and political attitude. I was therefore slightly surprised when I found Kipling within these pacifist pages. As well as news of tribunals, and of the […]

‘The Tribunal’

Councillor Hopwood (to a conscientious objector at Shaw Tribunal, asking for exemption): I think you are exploiting God to save your own skin. It is nothing but deliberate and rank blasphemy. A man who would not help to defend his country and womankind is a coward and a cad. You are nothing but a shivering […]

Toplis again

The figure of the petty criminal Percy Toplis, and the (almost certainly mistaken) notion that he was a crucial ringleader of the Etaples mutiny of 1917, had a great attraction for left-wing writers of the 1970s and early 1980s. I’ve already written about the treatment of Toplis by Alan Bleasdale in the TV series The […]

Rupert Brooke in Space

On Newsnight tonight, Benedict Cumberbatch read out an astonishing memo. It was written to Richard Nixon in 1969, at the time of the Apollo mission to the moon. William Safire had been asked to draft a speech for the President to make to the nation in preparation for the worst eventuality: that the astronauts, having […]

Warwick Deeping’s ‘Old Wine and New’

Asked to write about Sorrell and Son for a newspaper series on bestsellers, Kingsley Amis recorded that he began by taking umbrage at the book’s snobbery, and marked particularly repellent passages by writing ‘piss and shit’ in the margin. After a while, though, he stopped annotating, because he had become so gripped by the story. […]

Ernie Lotinga in ‘Josser in the Army’

In June 1927, T. S. Eliot wrote to Virginia Woolf: Have just been to see Ernie Lotinga in his new Play at the Islington Empire. Magnificent. He is the greatest living British histrionic artist, in the purest tradition of British Obscenity. Until recently I thought that almost all Lotinga’s film work had been lost, apart […]

The Women Police, and Warwick Deeping

It’s a hundred years since the introduction of women police in Britain, and there will be a documentary about their history on BBC4 next Monday. I wonder whether the programme will explain how very unpopular they were at first, especially with women. An interesting essay by Clare Langley-Hawthorne fills in the history. The first female […]

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